Flashback: Kobe Bryant ‘Not Ashamed’ to Say America ‘Greatest Country in the World’

TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY JACQUES KLOPP : "ANNEE SPORTIVE 2008 - ETATS-UNIS, LE TEMPS DE LA REDEMPTION" - (FILES) - USA's Kobe Bryant celebrates at the end of the men's basketball gold medal match Spain against The US of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August …
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant described the United States of America as the greatest country in the world in 2008, calling it the “ultimate” honor to represent in the Olympics.

Since Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday, video of a 2008 interview with NBC’s Chris Collinsworth about the Olympics resurfaced and went viral on social media.

“We believe it’s the greatest country in the world,” Bryant said, about the United States. “And it’s given us so many great opportunities. And it’s just a sense of pride that you have.”

“A moment from NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics that I will always remember,” NBC Sports journalist wrote on Twitter sharing the video. “Kobe Bryant telling Cris Collinsworth about the first time he received his USA uniform.”

When Collinsworth questioned whether the patriotic sentiment was old fashioned or uncool, Bryant replied, “No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. You know, I feel great about it. And I’m not ashamed to say it. This is, this is a tremendous honor.”

“When I look up in the crowd, and I see all the USA flags waving and people chanting USA, it gives you goosebumps,” Bryant also said, according to NBC. “When I heard the national anthem, I teared up a little bit, and I had to gather myself.”

Bryant led the U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 2008 and 2012 and winning gold medals for the United States. He also put off surgery for a torn ligament in his finger to play in the Olympic games.

In 2004, America’s Olympic basketball team only won bronze at the Athens Olympic games, the first time the United States failed to win gold in basketball since 1992.

Read the transcript of the interview

Collinsworth: “Tell the story of when you first got your USA uniform.”

Bryant: “Well, I had goosebumps, and I actually just looked at it for a while. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes. Just because it’s, you know, as a kid growing up, this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.”

Collinsworth: “Where does the patriotism come from inside of you, historically, what is it?”

Bryant: “Well, you know, it’s just, our country, we believe it’s the greatest country in the world. And it’s given us so many great opportunities. And it’s just a sense of pride that you have. Cause you say, you know what, our country is the best.”

Collinsworth: “Is that a cool thing to say in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems like, sort of, a day gone by.”

Bryant: “No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. You know, I feel great about it. And I’m not ashamed to say it. This is, this is a tremendous honor.”

(L-R) Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh of the United States hold their gold medals after defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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